An older spruce and Amazon rosewood lattice

This is a 2018/2019 build which I neglected to post. I think it has matured with a very interesting tone, modern yet not artificial or non-guitaristic, which for me is essential when building a concert guitar. Specs are lattice braced German spruce top, mahogany elevated neck, Amazon rosewood body, Brazilian rosewood bridge and armrest. For the sound samples two excellent modern pieces by Romanian composers Dan Dediu and Catalin Stefanescu.

Cutting the binding by hand

A lengthy post with some detail shots from the binding process. At this point the excitement level is at about 90% and going slow is quite painful. But lately I am less and less able to withstand the vibration from any power tool (getting numb hands and finger joint inflammation) so I am going off the grid. In the end, for this stage, it is just a few extra hours of work for four days, not the end of the world. At the same time the level of control is unsurpassed. In the gallery you will see a short vid showing the final tuning cut with the gramil, taking off ultra thin shavings for the ultimate fit. A router system will never have this level of finesse. Also strangely, “cutting binding by hand” seems to be one of the biggest search hits on my website.  Hopefully these photos might help other curious or aspiring builders.  If you want  to ask “what tools do you use” my answer is “yes”.  In internet slang, this means everything, all of them.  I start by sharpening all my small chisels (1.5, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9mm), the router plane and the gramil blades.  Ideally you want 2, even 3 gramils for most efficiency otherwise you will spend a bit too much time constantly resetting the depth and width of cut.  The gramil blades especially must be monster sharp for the final passes in the soundboard so revisits to the sharpening spot are needed.   The router plane is extremely useful for making the depths even in an accurate and safe way, especially when you don’t want to cut the soundboard all the way down and use the lining as reference.  I will also use a large chisel, slightly modified to sit flat on the soundboard, for trimming the extra height, also several planes tuned for fine no tearout cuts, and finaly scrapers.

A modern fan braced instrument in Alpine spruce and wenge

Pleased to present a 2022 guitar built for my friend, guitarist and teacher Costin Soare. Here I am revisiting the French school, this time taking inspiration from the works of Dominique Field. It is a Fleta style bracing (two harmonic bars under the soundhole but with only five fan braces, meaning a rather meaty soundboard) with densely braced, stiff back and sides. The guitar has excellent sustain and a thick, powerful first string. The tone is refined, reminding me of a Bouchet but with less nasality, more explosion, and a bolder more Spanish bass. The sound has good spontaneity and seems eager to project forward rather than being trapped inside. Overall I am very pleased and I will be using this as a starting point for my future modern spruce guitars.

Austrian Alpine spruce soundboard, African wenge back and sides, African sipo mahogany neck with rosewood reinforcement, African blackwood fingerboard with stainless steel frets, matched Brazilian rosewood bridge, heelcap and endgraft, Amazon rosewood carved headplate, Gotoh premium tuners.

Sample recordings are made in its early days (raw tone being bare wood) with carbon strings.

Bearclaw spruce / figured maple Torres hommage

Finally picking up with the deliveries…this time a feather light Torres homage in Italian intense bearclaw spruce and shell figure maple. Although I have been offered the maple as being Romanian maple, I suspect it might be from one of the American species instead, or even something entirely different (birch?) Whatever it is, the physical properties and tone are maple like. 640 scale, Malaysian ebony fingerboard, Madagascar rosewood headplate and bridge, Sipo mahogany neck and binding, ultra light aluminium plate Gotoh tuners.

This guitar has been a very pleasant surprise, with excellent projection and a treble tone ranging from clean clear to warm and sweet as needed. Demos below (below the photos) thanks to visits by Andrea de Vitis and Danguole Lingyte; normal tension d’addario nylon strings, absolutely no processing or effects used.

A special Cedar/Amazon rosewood lattice

I have been fantasizing for a few years about using one of the special extra dark Amazon rosewood sets in my collection so building this guitar has been a real experience. It has also proved to be hard to fill and finish in the traditional way, I needed a few healthy months to get a thick flat shellac film (I really don’t want to deliver those superficial finishes that burn and flake off after 2 weeks of use)

The title is lattice braced but the soundboard is actually in the traditional range of thicknesses while the spruce lattice is discreet in influence. The body of the guitar however is stiff and heavy as I believe this is the right alternative (NB alternative, not replacement) to the traditional light build.

Other details are Brazilian rosewood bridge, armrest and internal elements, Sipo mahogany elevated neck, African blackwood fingerboard with stainless steel frets, Gotoh premium tuners and an unobtrusive yet slightly beneficial soundport.

Below the (many) photos, two beautifully played videos took mid-way during the polishing process.

A double top prototype

One of my composite soundboard prototypes which came to completion during the pandemic. Alpine spruce outer, balsa core, cedar inner, Indian rosewood body, Brazilian rosewood bridge, ebony binding and armrest. As always I did not design this for absolute volume/boom but a blend of tonal quality, sustain and projection. I was very pleased with the result: quality, singing trebles, low nasality, natural tone.

Spruce/Wenge lattice

Continuing to catch up with the blog, this is my first wenge guitar made in 2020, and despite the difficulties of using this wood the tone is really a pleasant surprise. The top is Italian Alpine spruce, wood lattice bracing, ebony headplate and binding, African blackwood fingerboard and armrest, Brazilian rosewood bridge. Below the gallery, a couple videos made by the owner.